clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A suspected terrorist can buy a gun more easily than Steph Curry can make a free throw

Zachary Crockett / Vox

Stephen Curry — the 28-year-old point guard for the Golden State Warriors — has been dubbed the "greatest shooter" in the history of the NBA.

Aside from his arsenal of three-point records, he is also the third-best free throw shooter of all time. In his seven-year career, he has made 1,668 of 1,850 attempts from the line — good for a 90.2 percent success rate.

Zachary Crockett / Vox

That’s pretty damn good. But it’s not quite as good as a suspected terrorist’s success rate buying a gun in America.

Stick with us for a second.

Every time a person in the US buys a gun at a shop, the seller is required to run him/her through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This system — which has the stated aim of "not letting guns fall into the wrong hands" — cross-checks each purchaser against a database, and determines whether or not he/she is eligible to buy a gun.

There are nine major categories that disqualify a prospective buyer from completing a gun purchase, including (but not limited to) those listed below:

Zachary Crockett / Vox

Of 100 million gun background checks the FBI has administered in the past decade, some 700,000 people have been denied.

Being a suspected terrorist is not one of them.

Since 2004, the FBI has included its terrorist "watch list" — a database of 800,000 people suspected to have terrorist ties — in the NICS background check. But unlike the disqualifiers above, being included on the terror watch list does not bar a person from getting a gun.

According to data from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), between 2004 and 2015, suspected terrorists attempted to make 2,477 gun purchases.

Of these, 2,265 — 91.4 percent — were successful.

In America, someone on a federal terror watch list has a greater probability of legally buying a gun than the greatest shooter in basketball has of making a free throw.

But in the wake of last week’s latest mass shooting in Orlando (carried out by a gunman once on the terror watch list), legislators hope to change this.

On Wednesday, Sen. Chris Murphy staged a 15-hour filibuster. It resulted in the GOP agreeing to vote on a new gun bill that proposes to "ban gun sales to suspected terrorists … if there is ‘reasonable belief’ the weapons may be used to carry out an attack."

If it passes (it most likely won't), Steph Curry might actually lose a title for once.

Watch: 18 charts that explain gun violence in America